*Insert William Shatner impression here* Captain’s log, star date 21… 07… .16. Weeeeee’ve… travelledbackintime to the childhoods of many. Many. Many… trekkies.
Okay, if I write like that any longer I may just hate myself more than I thought possible since my high school formal. All terrible Shatner impressions aside, Star Trek: Beyond is the third instalment in the new Star Trek film franchise – a franchise I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever when it first arrived. Since seeing the first two films (Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness) however, I can say that I was greatly anticipating Beyond (gasp!). So let’s kick this thing into warp speed and find out if this starry eyed sequel treks beyond our expectations. SeewhatIdidthere?
Star Trek: Beyond is directed by Justin Lin (Fast 5, Fast & Furious 6) and follows the crew of the Starship Enterprise as they once again boldly go where no man has gone before… and then immediately boldly decide to go the heck home because this mission is FUBAR (pardon my militaristic French). We reunite with the same familiar crew from the previous two films, led by Chris Pine reprising his role as Cap-tain James… Tiberius Kirk (sorry, still getting the Shatner out of my system). If you missed the first two Trek films in this series, then in the words of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC! This is a perfectly good standalone film that I fortunately saw with two people who missed the previous films, and boy can I tell you they had a blast!
This is a fast, captivating and very, very fun film that had the entire theatre entranced. This is a night out you owe yourself. Now let me tell you why.
The Enterprise crew prepare for that inevitable Oscars VFX snub.
While fans (and anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock) will recognise the new Enterprise crew as a recasting of the O.G. Trek crew, this is the first film in this series (in my opinion) that truly delivers a solid callback to the roots of serial sci-fi. It hearkens back to the original Star Trek in all the right ways. As a self-professed Trek shunner, even I could appreciate the love for the source material that was present in this movie. While the previous entries in this franchise were both exceptional sci-fi blockbusters, Beyond stands out for me with its all-around fun vibe. This is classic sci-fi adventure filmmaking in a way that will make anyone feel nostalgic, with enough vibrant aliens to see, enough humour to enjoy, enough action to enthrall, and a pace that is just infectiously exciting. Fan service is sprinkled throughout but the film does not rely on this. Instead, Beyond smartly focuses on simply being a damn good time, and succeeds at every turn.
Beyond recalls the original poster art of the original Star Trek Motion Picture
The returning crew are something that watchers of the first two Trek films will feel at home with. Meanwhile, fresh viewers will quickly take to the varied cast through sheer likability. All actors reprise their previous roles. We have Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Mr ‘Damn it Jim, I’m a Doctor – ‘Bones’ McCoy) as well as Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg and the late Anton Yelchin. No obvious effort is made to reintroduce us to these characters, but any discerning viewer can quickly figure out what every crew member is all about after their first appearance. This is marvelously subtle writing and directing. I doesn’t feel heavy handed in the least, but rather organic and so simple that new viewers aren’t even aware they are being introduced to these established characters in a nutshell. Top notch writing on the part of Simon Pegg (who also plays Scotty) & Doug Jung, whom not only give each character in the cast enough time to shine, but also introduce us to new characters without sacrificing ANY other story elements (take note, Hollywood).
The standout performances for me (and many others) were Chris Pine as Kirk, and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman) as Jaylah – a badass alien who teams up with our enterprise heroes. Chris Pine yet again recaptures the essence of a true hero we can all root for, as a Captain Kirk for a new generation that exudes charisma, determination and character. The new kid on the block (minus Marky Mark trailing far behind) is Jaylah, a captivating alien who assists our heroes when they find themselves stranded on an alien world. Jaylah is written with enough character to almost immediately endear her to you. And if that wasn’t enough, she’ll certainly win you over in her kick ass action scenes. First Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, now Jaylah. I’m just waiting for an outstanding lady in Suicide Squad (-cough- Kitana will be a breakout hit -cough- you heard it here first) and we have our trinity of girl power for the year. It goes without saying that the entire cast turn in great performances here, including the very alien Idris Elba as the villainous Krall.
Jaylah refuses to show Scotty her wicked-good makeup secrets.
The only area I can reasonably fault this movie in is its villain: Krall. For a good while we aren’t given much of a solid foundation for this scaly alien’s actions, as he mostly appears as scaly broken-speech-giant intergalactic jerk. However, this is honestly me knit picking here, as we are later given a very solid reasoning behind all of Krall’s actions – a motivation that is particularly resonant given setup for other characters earlier in the film. So to those who may find themselves wondering at the half-way mark “Why is Krall cosmically double-fist punching the Enterprise crew?” – just wait and see. I assure you, it will be satisfying.
Maybe Krall’s born with it? Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Returning to one of the many things Star Trek: Beyond does well, we have the part of the film that must uphold the title of blockbuster – and boy does this hit harder than Blockbuster video’s relevancy did when it plummeted after V.O.D. (I still love you, video stores). Beyond is big-screen-spectacle at its finest: with vibrant colours, fast paced imagery and seriously clever camerawork that interweaves action with a fluidity that makes the pacing of the film palpable. The spatial awareness of the action direction in this film is impressive, with some Inception-esque orientation bending that will have you giddy with movie magic (not to mention checking that you are right-side-up in your seat). As an audience you feel the weightlessness of space as starships spin wildly out of control, yet the crew remain standing in the safety of their artificial gravity. All of this is achieved with stunning visual effects and stellar VFX camerawork, creating a visually captivating film that throws you on the rollercoaster and never stops rolling. Two prime examples of the sheer fun in these action sequences are an escape on a destroyed ship in which Kirk belly-slides backwards down the wreckage while shooting the enemy, and a sequence involving Captain Kirk harassing the enemy base with a motorcycle. I’m not kidding. Please go watch this movie.
Honestly, there’s little I can say about Star Trek: Beyond that doesn’t make me sound like someone who is a little biased and coming off a high. But in truth, I am coming off of a high here because I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond – more than I expected and to the point that I immediately want to see it again. If that doesn’t tell you this is a good time, then I just don’t think this relationship is going to work. This is a superb sci-fi spectacle that recaptures the sheer fun that science fiction adventure can (and did) have. Any Trekkie will be enamoured by this film’s fan service, and any viewer will be taken to infinity and *beyond* their expectations (you knew it was coming). This is a damn good time that is – mostly – family friendly (some minor violent imagery) and altogether a complete joy to watch. Hit warp speed on your car and get yourself in a cinema, because this is both a stellar send off to a trilogy, and a fantastic springboard to a promising future for sci-fi adventure films.
If you like this and want to see more (Shatner impressions optional) then check back here and live long and Pixel Pop!
SUMMARY: If you’re looking for a fun, fast paced sci-fi adventure then it’s hard to look past Star Trek: Beyond. With dazzling visuals, interesting characters and a break neck pace that never leaves you bored, this is a supremely entertaining blockbuster that doesn’t sacrifice anything for the sake of spectacle. It’s just a hell of a great time!